I started on the keto diet on March 17th, 2018 and it has been very good to me. I am no longer pre-diabetic, I’ve lost 82 lbs, and my lab markers are greatly improved. It has been so successful that my whole family will be switching to the keto diet after Christmas.
Since I’ve become more outspoken about my success I have gotten a lot of questions about the diet. There are a lot of misconceptions about what keto is and what it is not. A lot of those misconceptions are about the foods we eat or avoid.
That is the misconceptions I am dealing with a lot right now as our families are preparing holiday meals. To make it easy on them I have been telling them to think about it like any other low-carb diet. Still, there are foods that you should avoid on keto that will surprise you the first time you hear about them.
Top of the list, the #1 thing that surprises people on the keto diet is fruits and berries. When most of my extended family go on a diet the first thing they do is stock up on fruits and berries. This makes sense because fruits are healthy, right?
So it’s only natural that they make the same assumption about the keto diet. What they don’t realize is that fruits and berries are super high in sugar. The occasional serving of raspberries or blueberries isn’t going to hurt you.
The next food that surprises people is vegetables. Most vegetables are ok but some are high in carbohydrates, especially starchy ones like sweet potatoes, corn, rice, and yams.
I will also include in this category vegetable oils. It makes sense but I have had to remind my husband several times that these are not keto friendly. While on keto stick with extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and grapeseed oil and cut out all the others.
Beans are a good source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and protein. For many households, beans and other legumes are a staple food. Before I started keto, beans were in at least half the family dinners.
Despite those health benefits beans and legumes are very high in carbohydrates. Even accounting for the fiber one cup of black beans has around 25 grams of net carbs.
If you are looking for an alternative to beans I would highly recommend black soybeans. For one cup you will get about 2 grams of net carbs. A lot of people also recommend mushrooms as a possible substitute but I have never tried it.
Dairy is in kind of a weird place for many people who are not very familiar with the keto diet. In my experience, some think it has to cut out, and some don’t realize that milk or cheese has carbs at all.
The truth is that both are somewhat incorrect. There are a lot of dairy items that are high in carbs, and a lot that is not. It might surprise you what dairy items are keto friendly.
Milk is still something to avoid, especially low-fat milk. Low-fat milk usually has added sugar to make it taste more natural. If you buy pre-shredded or sliced cheese be sure to read the ingredients. Often it will contain potato starch to prevent clumping.
Real butter, cheese, full-fat yogurt, and even heavy cream are all keto friendly. This can surprise people because those aren’t foods you normally eat while dieting. As long as you mind your portions there is no reason to avoid these dairy items.
When making dinner plans with friends who aren’t familiar with the keto diet, bar-b-q is always one of the first recommendations. That is because most people don’t consider how much sugar is in sauce and glazes. Many glazes use honey or sugar for flavor so skip the ham this Christmas as well.
You may not realize it but processed and deli meats often have added sugar to make them taste better. This includes hot dogs, sausage, and even bacon. The same goes for dried meats and jerky. If you are buying these make sure and carefully read in the ingredients and nutrition information.
One of my in-law’s traditions is a night of cards and drinking every holiday. Luckily for me while on the keto diet, not all alcohol needs to be avoided. If you are planning on having a couple of drinks you will need to stick with dry wines and hard alcohol. Almost every other kind of alcohol is loaded with carbs.
A word of caution. I have heard that the keto diet lowers your alcohol tolerance. I can’t confirm this myself because I don’t drink often. Still, it bears remembering if you will be having more than a drink or two. I’ll try and remember to update this after Christmas and New Years.
I’m talking about sweeteners like Splenda, Equal, NutraSweet, and others like that. Not the natural sugar substitutes, although you should limit those as well.
It might not make sense including artificial sweeteners because they are carb free. One of the great secondary benefits of the keto diet is how it changes your tastes. As you eat fewer carbs and fewer sweet food, your cravings for sweets will go away naturally. Eating artificial sweeteners will keep that from happening. For that reason, I included them on this list.
To be totally honest with you I have been horrible at this one. I still drink diet soda occasionally or have sugar free treats. This is probably why I still get cravings for junk food as often as I do.
Finally, the last thing on the list is anything that is technically a food but spawned out of some lab somewhere. It doesn’t matter what diet you’re on skip all of that junk, forever. I know it tastes good and makes you happy for a little while but you will be much better off without it.
It is sad but a lot of those processed “foods” are marketed as healthy. Many of them are marketed specifically for the keto diet. These health foods are better than other choices but you can’t beat whole real food for any healthy diet.
I didn’t want to give you a guide on what not to eat without giving you some help as well. Since I am a huge cookbook nerd I wanted to recommend a few cookbooks. These will help you make delicious keto friendly meals. You can also follow my Keto/Low Carb Recipe board on Pinterest for more ideas.
I hope you learned something and you didn’t see your favorite food on the list. My favorite snack before keto was summer sausage and cheddar on crackers. So trust me when I say I understand how much that sucks.
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